San Francisco, California cannabis dispensaries will remain open alongside essential businesses as the city shuts down most nonessential businesses amid the spread of the novel coronavirus, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Dispensaries were initially included in the shelter in place order that will close most businesses for three weeks, but the health department walked back that directive for dispensaries on Tuesday.
“Cannabis is an essential medicine for many San Francisco residents. Dispensaries can continue to operate as essential businesses during this time, while practicing social distancing and other public health recommendations.” – San Francisco Department of Public Health on Twitter
Dr. Susan Philip, director of disease prevention and control, said during a news conference that dispensaries would remain open for pickup and delivery.
“People rely on medical cannabis for chronic pain, seizure disorders, muscle spasms, depression and multiple other disorders and conditions,” Philip said to reporters.
Eliot Dobris, a spokesman for the Apothecarium dispensary, which has three San Francisco locations, told the Chronicle that the store’s policies have changed amid the outbreak – customers can no longer touch samples or jars, and are asked to maintain distance from other customers and staff. They’ve also set up hand sanitizer stations and employees dedicated to cleaning the shop.
Cannabis tech company Headset found that cannabis sales are on the rise amid the coronavirus outbreak as counties, cities, and states begin to implement shelter in place orders or place strict limits on the number of people allowed to gather in one place.
In Washington state – which shut down restaurants, bars, entertainment, and recreational facilities for two weeks on Monday – adult-use cannabis sales were up 23 percent last Friday, 14 percent on Saturday, and 33 percent on Sunday, compared to the week prior.
The decision to keep dispensaries open was supported by city Supervisor Matt Haney, who said that “many people rely on cannabis as medicine” and called keeping the businesses open “important.”